I learnt two words from Matthew Noble: the word “listicle”, which had been completely new to me, and “life circumstances”, which is not new but is just the expression I needed. It’s Saturday evening, our place is quiet and I am back to blogging while giving up on watching a film with the rest of the family. So here goes my list:
- This blog has been on a hiatus due to life circumstances, aka not exactly easy stuff happening, (but things are better now). As a result of this, I needed to halt work for two months in autumn and later cut teaching by about a third.
- I also completely abandoned my online presence for some time and basically dropped “building my online persona”, stopped adding stuff on Facebook and my page for Czech learners, and stopped tweeting. There wasn’t space for it but I’m slowly going back. I wonder how much this will impact on me finding work in the future. Will people forget I exist? Not the real people, family, friends, but the online gang, obviously.
- The forced break has given me a very important lesson regarding work-life balance. If you want to improve your work-life balance, forget to-do lists and GTD. The easiest thing is to cut work. It won’t exactly improve your financial situation, but you won’t be killing yourself from exhaustion like I did previously.
- In summer, I tested my vocabulary size and ended up with 14,700 word families, which is…ok, but. It is on the lower side of the native speaker range but I know people whose vocabulary is 30,000 words. I’ve never been the new-word-gatherer-type-of-student, but I decided to do something about it. So I started a notebook, a tiny little pink moleskine.
- Here’s the vocabulary notebook system. Watch carefully as I’m really proud of it. On one side, I enter a new word and any info that I feel is needed: definition, preposition that follows, synonyms, examples, a simple picture, etc. I flip the notebook and put in the Czech translation – just a single word, one on each line. I stick a pen on the book and carry it everywhere. I can either read the words or test myself whenever I have a moment. Let’s see what size I wear next summer!
- Again, I am teaching our Czech class – a two-semester course of roughly 500x45min lessons in which Slavic students move from 0 to B1 and hopefully B2. They are 17-19 years old, which is exactly the age between pedagogy and andragogy. Some students are hardworking and motivated, some just don’t care that much. And again, the old question, what does a teacher do with the latter type? Waste precious time on trying to motivate them, or focus on the hard-working kids? The former seems better pedagogy, but then again… I don’t know.
- Some books I read, which I really liked: The Learning Rainforest has helped me improve my general teaching skills (I studied to be a linguist, not a “teacher”) and class management. Very useful for my Czech class and large classes in general.
- This is probably the most popular graded reader I’ve read with my students (there is always a book club, with most of my classes). The stories make you cry or laugh (that more frequently), are easy to read and my students preferred them over Dracula or anything else we’d read previously. I wish there were more modern graded readers for adults – maybe science fiction or fantasy; that would be great.
- I started putting bits of “wisdom from classes” on Facebook just yesterday. It’s in Czech and getting quite a lot of attention both from my colleagues – teachers and students. I suppose I am always swimming in international waters, looking out for the goodies on Twitter and in blogs of my wonderful friends the whole world over, while neglecting home. So the aim is to point to what’s good pedagogy, maybe tear down some myths, and hopefully help establish better relations between teachers and students. The status is for friends only, but if you are my fb friend feel free to comment.
- As in Matthew’s blog post, I think I’ll leave number ten empty, if only to create a moment of silence before saying good night.
Thanks for reading and as always, I’ll be very happy to hear from you regarding any of the above bites.